Nobody has been able to put a finger on why the Vikings kicking game is so bad. But we might finally be on the verge of a breakthrough.
Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer, who has been with the Vikings since 2011, has seen it all, from success with Ryan Longwell and early on with Blair Walsh, to wide lefts, wide rights and dings off the uprights with Kai Forbath, Daniel Carlson and now Dan Bailey.
Walsh, as fans will recall, was a perfect 10-of-10 on field goals of 50+ yards as a rookie. He was good again in his second season in 2013 before falling apart in 2014 with nine misses. Things got out of control in 2015 when he hooked a 27-yard attempt wide left in a playoff loss to the Seahawks.
Now that Priefer has had a few years to chew on what happened, he believes he's figured out what really went wrong with Walsh.
“What happened with Blair, in my opinion, is that he lost a lot of weight," Priefer explained on Thursday. "He was trying to be more fit, and when he lost the weight he lost the strength. He lost the strength, he changed his technique and then he wasn’t as successful. That’s something I tried to stop and didn’t get it stopped.”
That's amazing. Walsh, who has great abs, got too darn skinny. Who knew?!
That's great and all, but it doesn't explain why Vikings kickers continue to rank among the worst in the NFL. Would it be different with a new special teams coach?
“I don’t think I’m doing anything different than other coaches, in fact, I think I understand the craft of kicking better than most coaches,” Prefer said. “I’m trying not to over-coach them. Certainly not over-coaching Dan Bailey. It’s a product of the whole battery working together and being more consistent.”
Vikings kickers are a combined 17-of-27 this season, good for 31st in the NFL, and the guy they cut, Carlson, is 10-of-11 under a different coaching staff in Oakland.